Thursday, February 15, 2024

Gitxsan Thunder Drummers, Dancers set the pace for this energetic week of All Native Basketball Tournament

A Full Civic Centre Parking Lot on Sunday hours before
the Opening Ceremonies for the 2024 ANBT

The Gitxsan Thunder set the table on Sunday evening for what has been another fast paced and fascinating week of Basketball at the Russell Gamble Gymnasium and the Civic Centre Arena.

The Sunday Opening Ceremonies featuring just the right mix of Drumming, Dancing and Singing, with a good bit of storytelling to mark the three hour showcase event for the 64th Annual Tournament.

The Ceremonies one which also featured some comments from Tournament officials and local dignitaries including the MP for the region Taylor Bachrach, MLA Jennifer Rice and Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond.

The Ceremony, one delayed a bit from its start time owing to the day of play that came on Sunday put the Gitxsan in the spotlight and they made the most of the opportunity to launch the 2024 Tournament.

One of the many highlights of the night was the annual entrance to the Russell Gamble Gymnasium by the Athletes and officials for the games. The drumming as they entered the Gymnasium providing for the heart beat of the event year after year.

When it came to the speeches from officials, Eva Spencer from the ANBT Executive   provided the State of the ANBT Address outlining some background towards this year's event and what it took to bring the annual event together.

Her first comments to note that the tournament will be expanded next year with the addition of the Women's Master's Division, a well received announcement by those in the Gymnasium

Among her observations for the evening was an overview of the cost to put on the annual event, first offering her thanks to Community Futures for their assistance by way of a loan during the Period of COVID and the to note of the expenses that the ANBT takes on.

"When COVID happened, because we didn't have a basketball, so the fans that you are usually help us pay all our bills, that's what we do with the money and that year we had no money to pay for bills.

We have two rents, we have one in our office and one for the floor in the arena.

So Community Futures lent us 40,000 dollars and if we paid it by December, 10,000 was forgivable, and that we did, we did everything to pay it before December.

Ms. Spencer also paid tribute to two of the large sponsors for the tournament for their sizeable donation to this years event.

"Our two big sponsors for this year is First Nations Health Authority with $50,000 and CN with $20,000. And then from other businesses we did get $5,000. So with this we were able to make this happen and not be worry about the expenses."

The ANBT official also provided a glimpse into the kind of money that they spend towards the annual event.

"Last year I want to tell you all the Civic Centre cost us 64,000 dollars for the week and for the per diems, the per diems we paid out 58,000 dollars.

With the per diems we hope we never have to cut that, because this tournament was started out with per diems and it's had per diets for 64 years and we hope that can carry on forever."

For their commentaries, MP Bachrach and MLA Rice both paid tribute to the spirit of the tournament and the enthusiasm that all of the participants bring to Prince Rupert each year.

When it came to his time for his opening comments, Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond welcomed the Nations to the city, the Mayor noting of the growth of the tournament over the years and its plans for the future.

"We need a bigger House and I can't make a bigger house too quickly.

But next year we're going to take the ice out a day early, so we can bring more teams to play in this tournament. 
The tournament's growing!

Thank you all, if you've come from away, Thank you!  

Welcome, Welcome.Welcome we're so happy you came.  

To all the organizers, to all the volunteers, to all the coaches and players, and the safety teams and the security and everybody else. 

Thank you for making this a great tournament.

Enjoy this week in Prince Rupert, thank you  for being here"

From that the night was turned back over to Gary Wells of the Gitxsan Nation and then to the Gitxsan Thunder, the drumming and singing weaving the narrative that was focused on elders and youth. 

Their performance noting of the recent passing of one of their members last fall. 

Their performance that would follow on night was to the theme of I Believe.

"Our Gitxsan teams are here holding Marshall in memory and within our hearts during  this tournament. The theme for our Thunder Hearts Group is I believe.

And I wanted to share with you that we believe in Love, We believe in Unity, Respect, We Believe in our Culture, our Language, Song and Dances ... And we pay tribute to our Marshall Skulch, number 13, we love you Marshall"

From that the night's drumming, dancing and storytelling would follow the path of celebration and guidance that they can offer to the youth of all the Nations assembled.

In a change from years previous, announced as part of the Opening Ceremony was the name of the Nation that will Open the 2025 event, with Bella Bella chosen to host when the Nations gather in February of next year.

For those who could not make it to the Sunday opening, CFNR has added the memorable events of the night to their list of Video channels from their week at the ANBT which you can review here.

More notes related to the Tournament can be reviewed through our archive page.

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